Reading Express

Years of Existence: 2006-
Venue: Sovereign Center (Reading, PA)
2006 - Semifinal appearance
2007 - Championship game appearance
2008 - Semifinal appearance
2009 - AIFA Champions
2010 -
Lifetime Record: 62-20
Home: 35-8
Away: 27-11
Neutral: 0-1
Playoffs: 7-3
Average Attendance: 3,892

The Reading Express completed a very successful season in 2006. After a 1-2 start, which included two home loses to Erie and Canton, the team went on a 12 game winning streak, which lasted into the playoffs. The streak began with a 41-38 overtime win against Johsntown. After sweeping the Huntington Heroes in the regular season, Reading beat them again, 57-23 in the North Division semifinals. Then, Canton came back to the Sovereign Center for the first time since week four of the regular season. However, the result was the same, as the Legends used a second half shutout to derail the Express, 44-24. Quarterback Tom Stetzer, kicker Erik Rockhold, and wide receiver Carmello Ocasio did a good bit of scoring for the Express. These three stars returned to the team in 2007, leading the Express to fourteen regular season wins and a second straight regular season Northern Division title. The opening round opponent this year was Pittsburgh. The Express handled the River Rats 42-24 and would again meet the Canton Legends at the Sovereign Center for a shot at the American Bowl game. The Legends led the Express 37-35 in the third quarter, but Reading would eventually pull away to a 66-51 victory. The team advanced to the championship game and fell behind by as many as 20 points late in the game to the Lakeland Thunderbolts. A late rally was not enough, as the Express lost, 54-49. The Express were a new team in 2008. The coaching staff underwent an overhaul, as did some of the roster. Rob Flowers took over at quarterback after John Port didn't work out too well. Flowers passed for 43 touchdowns and ran for 19 more. All four road losses were blowouts, while all of the team's home wins were not nailbiters. After clinching another division title, the team hosted Erie in the playoffs. Reading used a pick-six as time expired to defeat Erie, 67-57. Florence came to town the following week, for the teams' first ever meeting. The Phantoms took a 29-9 lead in the second quarter and never looked back en rout to a 52-37 victory. This was Reading's first home loss since the conference title game in 2006 against Canton. The Express stayed strong in 2009 despite three consecutive deep runs in the playoffs that came up short. Rob Flowers again took the helm and passed for 72 touchdowns, 29 more than in 2008 and 13 picks, just one more than in the 2008 regular season. Carmelo Ocasio and Jeff Willis both caught over 1,000 yards and former af2 veteran Yardon Brantley contributed 13 touchdowns. The team went 11-3, losing two games to Baltimore and on the road at Fayetteville, before clinching the division for the fourth consecutive year. The Express would again host the Baltimore Mariners, and this time they would not be beat. Flowers passed for five scores and ran for another as the Express took a 29-6 halftime lead and never looked back, winning 50-20 at home. The next test would be more formidable: at Columbus. With the score tied at 36 in the third quarter, two Yardon Brantley touchdowns would give the Express a 51-36 lead. Reading would go on to win 60-51, as Flowers threw for six scores and ran for two more. The Express earned its second championship berth, this time in Casper. The Express would fall behind 34-23 in the second quarter in Wyoming, due in part to Flowers throwing a pick six. However, Willis, Ocasio, and Brantley would combine to score five times, while Flowers added two more. The Express would shut down the Cavalry in the second half, needing oxygen masks and frequent substitutions to combat the high altitude, outscoring the Cavalry 42-8 from late in the second quarter. When the drubbing was over, the Express had won their first AIFA title, 65-42. The team returned to defend its title in 2010. Rob Flowers again led the team, but this year he was not so stellar. He threw for 56 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and contributed heavily to the team's 12 lost fumbles. The secondary was also a killer, allowing 51 touchdowns and just picking just 18 balls off. The regular season saw the Express go 8-6 and miss the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with Erie. A 40-39 loss at home to Richmond and a 41-34 loss in Erie were the closest games that could have gone the other way. Even so, the team had a chance to secure a playoff berth with a win in Baltimore. The Express came up short, 69-35 and would sit home for the first time ever in the postseason.